A Court of King’s Bench judge has handed down a not guilty verdict in the case of a man charged in a stabbing death in Bell’s Point in 2020.

Keegan Nelson-Smith was charged with second degree murder in the death of Muhammad Venne. Throughout the trial, which was heard by a judge alone over several days, the Crown called a number of witnesses to the fatal fight to testify, while the defense worked to raise questions about the credibility of much of the witness testimony. The defense did not call any of their own witnesses at the trial.

In handing down the not guilty verdict Monday morning at Court of King’s Bench in Prince Albert, Justice R.W. Danyluk spoke about the need for the Crown to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, which he found they did not do. Before officially handing down the verdict Danyluk asked Nelson-Smith, who was seated in the prisoner’s box to stand.

“I find you not guilty of the charge of second degree murder as set out in the indictment,” the judge said.

(Shivon Venne, Muhammad’s sister speaks with media outside King’s Bench Court in Prince Albert. Photo by Michael Joel-Hansen.)

After the verdict was read out Nelson-Smith grabbed tissues from a box in the prisoners box while some members of his family briefly got emotional.

Speaking to media outside of court after the verdict was handed down Muhammad’s oldest sister Shivon Venne said the family took the the court’s verdict hard. She added going through the court process has been hard as it has forced them to relive the day of her brother’s death over again.

“My mom’s devastated I can honestly say that, I think the whole family’s devastated, everyone is devastated,” she said.

Going forward Shivon asked people to offer their prayers to the family. She said the family will also be looking to show support and love to Muhammad’s son.

“He is in counselling because of the dramatic and traumatic loss that he’s experienced, so we’re doing our best to make sure that he knows that he’s loved,” she said.

Shivon said Muhammad meant the world to her and that she will always love him. She said when she thinks about her brother she remembers him for being a funny person.

“All of my memories with my brother are filled with laughter because he was such a comedian and he just found humor in everything,” she said.

(Family members hug outside of court. Photo by Michael Joel-Hansen.)

(Top Photo: King’s Bench Court in Prince Albert. Photo by Michael Joel-Hansen.)